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Monday, September 25, 2023

Good to Nice to Gone

I used to be as soon as a part of a management growth initiative (in 2019) that required partnering and collaborating with a third-party vendor, which delivered a 2-day management growth workshop.

This third-party vendor chosen a video (from a management growth consultancy) that talked concerning the significance of tradition and showcased a CEO of a retail firm.

I used to be fairly interested in this CEO and commenced researching him. In the midst of my analysis, I found that he was let go from his position as CEO in 2014 on account of his failure to assist the corporate obtain its monetary targets. What’s extra, the corporate’s revenues turned so unhealthy that it was delisted from the New York Inventory Change. And regardless of being underneath new management, it filed for Chapter 11 chapter in 2016 (Novellino, 2016).

I shared with the third-party accomplice and my senior leaders what I had discovered. Extra importantly, I advisable that we substitute the video of the retail CEO with one other CEO. I identified that tradition is nice and each group desires an incredible tradition, however having an incredible tradition whereas not reaching monetary targets doesn’t assist the corporate “succeed” and is NOT a definition of what constitutes a profitable chief or firm.

Here is an incredible instance. In his basic e book, Good to Nice (2001), Jim Collins praised Circuit Metropolis, highlighting it all through his e book as one of many “Good-to-Nice Firms.” Circuit Metropolis would file for chapter in 2008.

“Because the late Eighties Circuit Metropolis had been acknowledged by Wall Avenue and enterprise insiders because the best-run, best-managed, and most worthwhile specialty retailer of electronics and home equipment within the nation.” -Alan Wurtzel (Good to Nice to Gone)

“From 1982 to 1997, Circuit Metropolis’s inventory value had outperformed that of the overall inventory market by an unbelievable 18.5 occasions, much better than some other Fortune 500 firm for any fifteen-year interval since 1965. But simply twelve years later, Circuit Metropolis was no extra.” -Alan Wurtzel (Good to Nice to Gone)

Some causes for Circuit Metropolis’s demise included (Galuszka, 2008):

“. . . getting into into costly actual property offers, placing shops within the unsuitable locations and forgetting core values of being the low value vendor. The agency laid off its skilled gross sales workers after which laid off chunk of its higher-paid however much less skilled gross sales workers, leaving Circuit Metropolis with its lowest paid, least skilled gross sales workers, to not point out a raft of annoyed prospects.”

“Maybe the largest single failing was that within the early Nineteen Nineties Circuit Metropolis got here up with a superb thought to promote used vehicles — CarMax. However the CEO on the time paid an excessive amount of consideration to attractive CarMax. When it was spun off in 2002, he left with it, taking with him a few of the most proficient Circuit Metropolis managers.”

Wick (2020) supplied the next snapshot of how Circuit Metropolis went from “Good” to “Nice” to “Gone”:


  • Inside 10 years, Wards turned a four-store chain (based in 1949 as Wards Firm, it modified its identify in 1984 to Circuit Metropolis Shops Inc.)

  • Whole gross sales: $1M per yr

  • Decrease costs than smaller opponents

  • Shops provided service incentives

  • By 1979, gross sales reached $120M


  • In 1987, annual gross sales reached $1B

  • Within the Nineteen Nineties, was largest shopper electronics retailer within the U.S.

  • Finest performing firm on Jim Collins’ Good to Nice checklist

  • Extremely motivated and well-trained personnel

  • Deployment of refined point-of-sale and stock monitoring expertise

  • Capability to attach the move of knowledge amongst geographically dispersed shops

  • Detailed monitoring of buyer preferences

  • Fast response to altering developments

  • Implementation of 4S/5S enterprise mannequin

  • Rivals had been unable to duplicate their core competencies


  • Uncared for to improve and defend core competencies

  • High administration workforce was distracted by pursuing noncore actions

  • Laid off 3,400 of agency’s highest-paid gross sales personnel

  • Finest Purchase recruited Circuit Metropolis’s prime personnel

  • Finest Purchase upgraded its core competencies

  • Filed for chapter safety in November 2008

“Finest Purchase’s retailer and staffing fashions had been a greater match for shoppers’ altering preferences; as shopper electronics turned cheaper and extra ubiquitous, prospects not wanted or needed a salesman to assist them with lots of their purchases. Circuit Metropolis, then again, caught to its commission-based gross sales power and its reliance on high-margin merchandise, and watched Finest Purchase take over its market share.” -Jessie Romero (2013)

“Customers had been saying loud and clear that they needed to buy in an open surroundings with gross sales help if, as, and after they needed it. They needed to have the ability to decide up a product and get out the door with out having to hearken to a gross sales pitch for a step-up product or prolonged warranties. Some needed gross sales help on sure merchandise. Some had been keen to think about prolonged guarantee safety. However nobody needed to be compelled to hearken to a pitch.” -Alan Wurtzel (Good to Nice to Gone)

“Even supposing Circuit Metropolis was clearly dropping market share, the administration workforce neither requested itself what prospects really need nor examined new methods that others had been discovering profitable.” -Alan Wurtzel (Good to Nice to Gone)

“Whereas gross sales and income grew and the inventory reached an all-time excessive in 2000, underneath Circuit Metropolis’s hood was an growing older retailer base, a failing advertising technique, an costly workforce, and an more and more out-of-date administration info system.” -Alan Wurtzel (Good to Nice to Gone)

“Because the mid-Nineteen Nineties, Circuit Metropolis administration and the board had not had a viable plan to stem the decline within the firm’s market share or the decline in its inventory value. When, in 2005, the corporate acquired a takeover provide at $17 per share, 20 % greater than the present market value, the board allowed itself to be persuaded by the administration workforce that they might magically reverse the slide and get the corporate again on observe and the inventory to greater ranges.” -Alan Wurtzel (Good to Nice to Gone)

As Phil Rosenzweig (2007b) wrote:

“Within the quest to attain superior efficiency, executives usually depend on recommendation in enterprise books, articles, and enterprise college case research that declare to disclose a blueprint for gaining lasting aggressive benefit.”

“The analysis underpinning this recommendation, nonetheless, is usually deeply flawed and, worse, obscures the essential reality that success within the enterprise world is predicated on selections made underneath uncertainty and within the face of things executives can’t management.”

“. . . the principal fiction on the coronary heart of so many fashionable enterprise books and articles [is] that following a number of key steps will inevitably result in greatness and that an organization’s success is of its personal making and never usually formed by exterior elements.”

“The easy reality is that no method can assure an organization’s success, a minimum of not in a aggressive enterprise surroundings.”

“A central drawback that clouds a lot of our fascinated about enterprise is The Halo Impact. Many issues we generally consider result in firm efficiency — company tradition, management, and extra — are sometimes merely attributions primarily based on firm efficiency.” -Phil Rosenzweig (2007c)

“How is the halo impact manifested within the enterprise world? When an organization is doing effectively, with rising gross sales, excessive income, and a surging inventory value, observers naturally infer that it has a sensible technique, a visionary chief, motivated workers, wonderful buyer orientation, a vibrant tradition, and so forth. When that very same firm suffers a decline—when gross sales fall and income shrink—many individuals are fast to conclude that the corporate’s technique went unsuitable, its folks turned complacent, it uncared for its prospects, its tradition turned stodgy, and extra. In truth, these items could not have modified a lot, if in any respect. Somewhat, firm efficiency creates an general impression that shapes how we understand its technique, leaders, workers, tradition, and different components.” -Phil Rosenzweig (2007a)

“. . . if researchers start by deciding on corporations primarily based on final result, then collect information by amassing articles from the enterprise press and conducting retrospective interviews, they aren’t more likely to uncover what led some corporations to change into Nice. They’ll primarily catch the glow of the halo impact.” -Phil Rosenzweig (2007a)

“Does having “humble management” and “nice folks” result in success? Or is it extra possible that profitable corporations are described as having wonderful management, higher folks, extra persistence, and better braveness?” -Phil Rosenzweig (2007a)

“We have to ask: “If we didn’t understand how the corporate was performing, what would we take into consideration its tradition, execution, or buyer orientation?” So long as our judgments are merely attributions reflecting an organization’s efficiency, our information will probably be biased, our logic round, and our conclusions uncertain.” -Phil Rosenzweig (2007a)

Takeaway: Watch out when deciding on a case examine (i.e., profile of a frontrunner or an organization) and be particularly conscious of the present relevance through which the case/story/instance is offered. As an example, ask your self if it is a particular person or firm that’s nonetheless value contemplating proper now. Be cautious of utilizing outdated case research drawn from fashionable, but outdated enterprise books or enterprise articles.

As Jim Collins (2009) acknowledged: “Each establishment is weak, irrespective of how nice. Regardless of how a lot you’ve got achieved, irrespective of how far you’ve got gone, irrespective of how a lot energy you’ve got garnered, you might be weak to say no. There is no such thing as a legislation of nature that probably the most highly effective will inevitably stay on the prime. Anybody can fall and most ultimately do.”

Written By: Steve Nguyen, Ph.D.
Organizational & Management Growth Chief


Collins, J. (2001). Good to Nice: Why Some Firms Make the Leap and Others Do not. Collins.

Collins, J. (2009). How the Mighty Fall And Why Some Firms By no means Give In. HarpersCollins.

Galuszka, P. (2008, November 22). Circuit Metropolis and the “Good to Nice” Enterprise Guide Conundrum. CBS Information. https://www.cbsnews.com/information/circuit-city-and-the-good-to-great-business-book-conundrum/

Novellino, T. (2016, Could 6). What went awry at Aéropostale? It’s sophisticated. https://www.bizjournals.com/newyork/information/2016/05/06/why-aeropostale-landed-in-bankruptcy-court.html

Romero, J. (2013). The Rise and Fall of Circuit Metropolis. Econ Focus, Third Quarter, 31-33. https://www.richmondfed.org/publications/analysis/econ_focus/2013/q3/~/media/4EDF64C581574974B9AAE6B3D7C88A9A.ashx

Rosenzweig, P. (2007a). Misunderstanding the Nature of Firm Efficiency: The Halo Impact And Different Enterprise Delusions. California Administration Overview, 49(4), 6-20.

Rosenzweig, P. (2007b, February 1). The halo impact, and different managerial delusions. The McKinsey Quarterly. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/the-halo-effect-and-other-managerial-delusions

Rosenzweig, P. (2007c). The Halo Impact and the Eight Different Enterprise Delusions That Deceive Managers. Free Press.

Wick, D. A. (2020, July 6). Circuit Metropolis’s Classes (Good To Nice To Gone). Strategic Self-discipline Weblog. http://strategicdiscipline.positioningsystems.com/blog-0/circuit-citys-lessons-good-to-great-to-gone

Wurtzel, A. L. (2012). Good to Nice to Gone: The 60 Yr Rise and Fall of Circuit Metropolis. Diversion Books.

#Enterprise #ExecutiveCoaching #Teaching #Management #TrainingDevelopment

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